The Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, often referred to as the Ferrari GT SWB, was unveiled in October 1959 at the Paris Motor Show and immediately became one of the best GT racers of its time. However, it was more than a race car. As the name suggests, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB was a GT car designed for maximum track performance and road usability and would join the list of the first dual-purpose Ferraris that Ferrari would call road racers. Before the Ferrari 250 GT SWB's production, Ferrari had partnered with Carrozzeria Pininfarina, leading to the world's renowned coachbuilder becoming a Ferrari partner. A relationship that started at a restaurant in a small town halfway between Turin and Modena made Pininfarina Ferrari's exclusive designer and coachbuilder do bodywork for some of Ferrari's most iconic cars, including the 250GT SWB. Underneath that stunning body, Ferrari used a Colombo 3.0-liter V12 in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, making 220 to 280 horsepower depending on the model year and specs. Some specs were more powerful than others, especially those specced as competition race cars and Lusso Ferrari 250 GT SWBs by Ferrari's special customers. Today, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB is remembered for its race wins, with its short wheelbase giving it an advantage over most of its competitors. It claimed the podium in some of the most extreme races, such as the 1960 and 1961 Lemans and the 1960, 1961, and 1962 Tour de France. Stirling Moss, one of the most competent drivers the racing world has ever seen, raced and won in a Ferrari 250 GT SWB. He even owned one since it was new! How much is a Ferrari 250 GT SWB worth? The lowest sale recorded was $968,000 in 2013, and the highest sale value is $16,500,000, which should give you an idea of how expensive the Ferrari 250 GT SWB is. Most car valuers value it at between $7,000,000 and $10,000,000, but some units will sell for more than that. For example, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB that Stirling Moss raced in 1961 sold for a mind-blowing $11 million.
Ferrari started by making race cars, then race cars and GT cars, and in 1959, they transitioned to making race cars disguised as GT cars. One good example is the Ferrari 250 GT SWB. The SWB name prefix comes from the car's short wheelbase, designed for maximum agility and handling, especially in corners due to a tighter turning radius. The Ferrari 250 GT SWB has a 2,400 mm wheelbase that is around 100 mm to 200 mm shorter than other 250 GTs. A 3.0-liter Colombo V12 Sits at the front of the steel tube chassis designed to make the car as lightweight as possible without losing its strength and rigidity. The chassis design was first used in early Ferrari models such as the Ferrari 212 and Ferrari 250 Europa, among the first GT cars Ferrari made. But the chassis was not all the Ferrari 250 GT SWB borrows from the two. It was among the first dual-purpose cars that Ferrari made to dominate race tracks without compromising their on-road capabilities. Therefore, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB was constructed with the two fields in perspective, showcasing Ferrari's abilities to make a car that could offer unparalleled versatility. Between 1959 and 1962, Ferrari made 167 Ferrari 250 GT SWBs, 100 of which were Lusso specs created for customers who didn't want to race but wanted similar power to the Competizione spec, which has the second-highest production number at 45 units.
For the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Ferrari engineers went back to the automaker's roots and used a Colombo-designed 3.0-liter V12 engine pushing out 220 to 280 horsepower, depending on the spec. The race-specific Competizione and Lusso specs had the highest power outputs, while the others, such as the Ferrari 250 GT SWB SEFAC Hot Rod, had 220 to 240 horsepower. Besides the larger displacement than Colombo's previous 2.6-liter V12, the 3.0-liter V12 engine benefits from a higher compression ratio, new carburetors, bigger valves, special exhaust manifolds, and fine-tuning, enabling it to make more power. The 280 horsepower engines in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione and Lusso have six carburetors compared to three in the standard spec engines. The engine sends power to the rear wheels via a single plate clutch in all models. The single plate clutch is not as good as the twin place clutch in the 250 Europa, but Ferrari enhanced it to handle abuse on the race track and refined it to offer precision and smoothness for on-road driving. Third-party sources say that the Ferrari 250 GT SWB can go from 0 to 60mph in a 6-8 seconds car, which is a testament to the car's engineering. Even by today's standards, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB is quick, and one of the reasons is that it weighs just a little over 2,000 pounds.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, luxury meets driver-focused functionality with supple leather adorning every surface, from the seat, door cards, center console, and dashboard. But it doesn't stop there. The storage bench behind the seat was also ladened with leather, and so was the cover for the storage bench, which came in some models. Additionally, as seen in most Ferrari 250 GT SWBs, the roof liner was lined with high-quality fabric or leather matching the seats. Speaking of the seats, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB has comfortable and supportive seats, which, during production, were comfortable enough for windy Italian vineyard roads with wings for extra shoulder support and bolsters for hip support. They also slant back a little bit, thus offering excellent comfort regardless of the driving conditions. Headrests would have been nice, but we won't complain since it was 1959 when Ferrari made the Ferrari 250 GT SWB. On the Ferrari 250 GT SWB's dashboard, you get a beautiful display of myriad gauges, each with a function. There's the usual instrument cluster with the speedometer, rpm, and gauges, but Ferrari had a habit of using more gauges, which in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB are on a panel at the center of the dashboard. These display amperes and oil, water, and fuel levels. Some Ferrari 250 GT SWBs even had a clock at the end of the gauge panel.
All Ferraris designed and made by Pininfarina are aesthetic marvels; the Ferrari 250 GT SWB is no exception. Some models were made with aluminum bodies, while others combined aluminum and steel, using steel everywhere except the doors, hood, and trunk lid for better weight distribution. Nonetheless, all were beautifully crafted, showcasing Pininfarina's attention to detail and artistry. The Ferrari 250 GT SWB's design remained unchanged for the two years in production. However, it still had better design elements than its predecessors, with detailed differences identifying the period in which it was made. For example, the wing sides were plain, and the front bumper had rectangular slots to cool the all-new front disc brakes. Furthermore, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB has indicators on the front wings and an exhaust air slot in the top center of the rear screen. Ferrari adopted all these design features in the late 50s and early 60s before dropping them in the mid-60s after producing the Ferrari 250 GT SWB and other models.
In 1959, Ferrari introduced disc brakes, and the Ferrari 250 GT SWB was the first road car to get them, but amongst all Ferrari cars, it was second after the 1959 Ferrari 250 TR. The brake discs in all four corners enhanced the Ferrari 250 GT SWB's braking capabilities, improving its performance and handling on the track and road. They were also easier to replace and had lesser wear, which immensely helped race car owners and teams, considering older models used drum brakes on all four corners. The Ferrari 250 GT SWB chassis might be similar to what Ferrari used in its predecessors, but it's slightly different. Ferrari implemented the use of oval tubes to replace the circular tubes on the chassis, which has several advantages. An oval tube chassis weighs less than a circular tube chassis and has better rigidity, stiffness, and strength, which is vital for a high-performance car such as the Ferrari 250 GT SWB. For smoother and more responsive steering, Ferrari used a worm and roller steering system in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, doing away with the older worm and sector system. The worm and roller system is also more resistant to wear. Also, it can handle challenging driving conditions such as track driving, which many Ferrari 250 GT SWB owners had hours of.
With a value of between $7 and $9 million, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB commands high prices due to several factors, such as its rarity and historical significance. Ferrari produced a relatively small number of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, with most sources indicating the production number at 167, which drives up the car's value just like any other limited production car, classic or modern. Another major factor driving up Ferrari 250 GT SWB prices is its historical significance in the automotive world and Ferrari's history, as it boasts an illustrious racing history, securing victories in some of the most prestigious races. If you're in the market for a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, you might find one listed on Exotic Car Trader, so ensure you watch out for our Ferrari listings. Also, we list all sorts of classic cars, so give us a call if any of Exotic Car Trader's classic car listings entice you.
Immediately after its unveiling, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB established itself as an iconic GT racer balancing track performance with road usability, exemplifying Ferrari's engineering prowess. It's loved today for the same reasons Italy's wealthiest loved it during production. However, with only 167 units produced, its value continues to increase, but the Ferrari 250 GT SWB will remain etched in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts for ages to come.
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